Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.
Tomatometer: Critics 93%, Audiences 85%
Oh shit! And again Orca mousy finds herself shouting at the majority of lions. 😮 No, really, I had quite high hopes for War. After the first two movies in this trilogy, Rise (2011) and Dawn (2014), I expected a great finale, a culmination in a war for extinction. And boy, was I let down. Let me tell you why I can’t quite join the choir of overwhelmed critics and audiences. Right after the next still.
War suffers from the usual Hollywood sickness: It is lazy! Lazily written script, carelessly banned on film. That’s particularly cringeworthy since the Apes trilogy didn’t need such a cheap way out. The first two movies laid the hurdle quite high with real clever screenplays, so it was infuriating to watch this one trying to get away with many plotholes and logical fallacities. I’m not going into spoilers here but you’ll notice them when you watch the movie.
And as so often it wasn’t just the over arching story which would’ve earned a better treatment. War had a very good cast and a budget to make it all possible. But ultimately it failed in almost every aspect. From storytelling, via acting, down to production. Let’s take it apart piece by piece:
Production was so-so. Very nice worldbuilding, cool locations and as usual super good motion capture of the apes. Particularly chief ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) was impressive.
Also I liked Steve Zahn as Bad Ape, the comic relief in this very dark film. Not every joke was a hit but his figure kept the right balance and even underwent some sort of character development. Bravo for Steve Zahn. The rest of the apeish-cast, as well as most humans did good too. But more about the cast later.
First more about the CGI: What was so wonderful in the apes went to pretty shitty in all other aspects. Starting with the worst ever waterfall and not even ending with bad explosion effects. One can really say for a 2017 production War stayed behind expectations and was rather underwhelming.
Let’s not forget: Modern Planet of the Apes movies are expected to be top notch and widening the borders of digital enhancement of movies. What we got to see instead was rather ho-hum.
Ok, back to the cast: I forgot to mention the second big star alongside Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson as the total douchebag “Colonel”. From a guy who leads the second largets group of human survivors, out to annihilate the apes, we’d expected much more. More of everything, first of all more charisma. Orca’s not a person to follow any leader figure, like ever. But of all the leaders Harrelson’s Colonel would be the last I’d likely follow into battle. He showed us a not only flawed and half-crazy but a weak person. And that’s unforgiveable, particularly for a bad-ass military leader.
We’ve gotta admit tho, the Colonel was a victim of the bad screenplay. There was not much to saviour from that role for Harrelson. Most prominently it showed in the classical “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die” moment of this film. For the colonel our apes are nothing but stupid and dangerous animals, so the fuk why does he explain all his motives and plans to the caught and helpless Caesar instead of just shooting him? BANG! Problem solved, role end titles. 😉 That for me was the most glaring plothole. But there were others, and no mistake, War won’t let you get away that easily.
The overall idea of the progressing trilogy was a good one: Slowly change the POV from human in Rise to a mixed bag in Dawn and switch totally to the ape perspective for War. But this created a problem for me.: I consider myself rather colourblind and non-racist but I was somehow not capable of fully accepting Caesar’s ape gang as my, heroes and main protagonists. Let the humans be as bad as you can imagine, a bunch of douchebags … still when I have to watch our new protas imitating human behaviour and repeating all the human mistakes, the fun is gone for me.
And then there’s the case of the little girl. 😦 Oh my. I can’t even guess at what Nova’s (Amiah Miller) main task in this movie was, for us she appeared as totally superfluous, a liability more than an asset.
CONCLUSION: A weak culmination of the conceptually strong Planet of the Apes trilogy. Many wasted chances, many shortcuts and still half an hour too long, War for the Planet of the Apes failed to meet expectations.
Watch it? Of course! It’s a must, after you’ve seen the first two movies you are morally bound to watch the finale as well. You won’t be bored and some of the effects are really great.
What does YouTube say?
Chris Stuckmann’s review is diametrically opposed to Orca’s.
Grace is my girl! She’s maybe even a bit too harsh with this movie. 😉
Mark misses his mark. 😉
The What the Flick crew gives a fair judgement.
Alachia … well.